I’ve had friends and family taken by cancer, and the cause was always the same – it was caught too late. Granted, a lot of that has to do with people not getting annual screenings, but cancer is also just really hard to find in its early stages. Couple that with the fact that some cancers can only be treated in the early stages and you have a problem. How do we catch cancer before symptoms even show up?
A team of researchers at UCLA have created the “world’s fastest camera” that’s able to identify rare breast cancer cells in real-time. What makes it even better is its astounding fale-positive rate of only one in a million cells. The researchers say that being able to find rare cancer cells early can help them prevent the leading cause of cancer spreading throughout the body.
So, how does this camera work? Let Bahram Jalali, the Northrop Grumman Endowed Opto-Electronic Chair in Electrical Engineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, can explain it much better than I can:
“To catch these elusive cells, the camera must be able to capture and digitally process millions of images continuously at a very high frame rate. Conventional CCD and CMOS cameras are not fast and sensitive enough. It takes time to read the data from the array of pixels, and they become less sensitive to light at high speed.”
The next logical question would be to ask how fast the camera actually is. The short answer – it’s really fast. The long answer – the camera was integrated with advanced microfluidics and real-time image processing that can screen 100,000 cells per second. It’s 100 times faster than the current standard blood analyzers.
The team is now testing the camera in collaboration with clinics. If proven successful, the camera will “reduce errors and and costs in medical diagnosis.” It also has the potential to be useful for “urine analysis, water quality monitoring and related applications.”
Can we start adding super fast cameras to inventions that are amazing? Sure, it’s no 3D printer yet, but these super fast cameras are definitely helping in the field of medicine and general technology. The future is upon us, folks, and it looks bright.[Lead image: UCLA]